“I think this is it,” I say to my sister-in-law Kay when we reach an expanse of shallow water and ochre rocks around a headland just south of Mollymook Beach.
“Is this the bogey hole?” I ask a woman in an Australian flag bikini. “To tell you the truth, I have no idea,” she says. We continue walking along the sand towards a large boulder.
“This is it,” I say to Kay when I read a series of plaques erected on the rock.
There’s four different ones remembering people connected to the bogey hole and two blokes called Rosso and Hairy who loved to surf the nearby Golf Course Reef. The most recent plaque, not as weathered by the salt spray, is a tribute to Dawn McLachlan, 91, who died in January last year while swimming in the pool.
Kay says she’s heard the bogey hole is good for snorkelling and wonders if we can swim in the outer part.
“Maybe,” I say, “but you wouldn’t want to get caught when the tide comes in.”
I take a few photos and then we walk back to meet Bruce at the café above the south end of Mollymook Beach. Over coffee, I Google the bogey hole, which The Mollymook Times says is a large tidal rock pool ideal for swimming with an outer shelf ideal for snorkelling. “It’s believed the name ‘bogey hole’ is from an Aboriginal word for ‘bathing’ and it was used by Aboriginal people for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years to bathe and trap fish.”
When we return a few hours later, the tide is really low and there’s hardly any water in the area closest to shore.
But the good news is the outer shelf is no longer submerged.
“Wow, it’s so beautiful,” I say about four times as we stumble over rocks and plunge in.
“So beautiful,” I say again when I swim over a spot where the water’s spearmint and crystal clear.
When my goggles continue to fog up I leave Kay snorkelling and walk across huge areas of Neptune’s Necklace seaweed clinging to the rocks and watch people leap into a strait of water.
When I return, other snorkellers have joined Kay, and when one of them gets out I ask him about the bogey hole.
“There were people in here spear fishing over Christmas,” says the pale, thin man in his 60s with a tattoo of a woman down the side of his leg and another one across his upper back. “We rang the authorities but they said they couldn’t do anything.”
I ask him if the place where the people were jumping in has a name.
“That’s called Kamikaze,” he says. “I used to surf off there but I can’t anymore. There’s a spot where you can get sucked under and you need to be able to hold your breath for two minutes.”
When his wife Alana emerges from the water, light blue rashie, silver hair and similar tattoos, she asks Kay if she saw the blue groper.
“No,” says Kay.
“Well, perhaps that’s good as it can give you a shock when it swims past,” she says.
“That blue groper is more than 40 years old,” says her husband, who I now know as Ian. “It’s got a scar from when someone tried to spear it years ago but it’s still going strong. There’s a few females in there too. One’s turning into a male – you know that’s what they do.”
“Yes,” I say, remembering the story someone told me about how gropers change their sex.
As we stand on the rocks drying off, Alana mentions other fish she saw.
“I missed a lot of that,” says Kay laughing. “But I just enjoyed the reeds – they were such beautiful colours.”
“There’s a lot more of that in there now than there used to be,” says Ian. As we chat about what we’ve seen underneath – a school of charcoal-coloured fish, ones with yellow and black stripes, pink rocks and purple and red plants – teams of tiny, grey fish swim by.
“Mullet,” says Ian, as we watch them glide towards the deeper water. When we walk back over the rocks, Ian and Alana tell us the blue groper often hangs around the area closer to shore.
“Another time, maybe we’ll see him,” says Kay as we wade through the water, the tide rippling in.
Mollymook is on the NSW South Coast, just over three hours drive from Sydney. The Mollymook Bogey Hole is a short walk from the Collers Beach parking area near Golf Course Reef. You can also reach it by walking around the headland from the south end of Mollymook Beach. Simon from the Ocean Pools NSW website has also written about the place which you can read here. The All Into Ocean Pools website also has a post on the bogey hole and includes some interesting history of the site.